About 10,000 people turned out Sunday to say goodbye to Michael Boogerd at his farewell race at the Cauberg in Valkenburg, the Netherlands. The race was won by the duo of Thomas Dekker and Alex Zülle, but the star of the show was the 35 year-old Dutchman, who turned pro in 1994 and has raced with Team Rabobank since 1996.
Boogerd had been scheduled to ride the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday, but a training crash the previous week lead to an infected knee, putting an end to that plan, and nearly preventing him from riding in his own farewell race. However, he paired with his brother Rini and rode the four laps of the course in a race designed as a two-rider team criterium. Other pairs included Rick Flens and Leontien van Moorsel, as well as Pieter Weening and Frans Maassen. Boogerd's parents fired the shot to start the race.
The Dutchman was honoured after the event with various gifts and a plaque from the municipality of Valkenburg. "I could have ridden this in a convertible or on a tandem bike, but I really enjoyed it on the bike," he noted in this speech of thanks.
"Beforehand I was afraid that not many people would come," he said. "I am happy and grateful that I have been able to do this. It did not even go badly with my knee. We had a lot of fun underway, and the Cauberg is very special. It just breathes cycling."
Also read our hommage feature on Michael Boogerd, Bye bye Boogie.